An Oakland firefighter got to spend his Fourth of July at the White House, one of several first responders honored in a ceremony Sunday on the South Lawn.
Firefighter-paramedic Gustavo Gonzalez was part of a delegation chosen by the National Association of Hispanic Firefighters to represent the Oakland Fire Department at the Independence Day celebration to mark “America Coming Back Together,” according to Michael Hunt, the fire department’s spokesperson.
Sunday’s White House celebration paid tribute to front line workers and first responders.
“I am honored and humbled to have been selected to represent the dedicated firefighters working on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic.”Gustavo Gonzalez, Oakland Fire Department
“Firefighter/Paramedic Gonzalez embodies everything that Oakland Fire Department represents as a dedicated and consummate professional,” said Reginald Freeman, Oakland’s fire chief. “I am thankful for his many contributions to our city, organization, and the collective fire service and equally thankful for him representing OFD at the White House. He makes us proud every single day.”
Sunday’s celebration, which was highlighted by a speech from President Joe Biden, included more than 1,000 first responders, essential workers, military service members and their families from around the nation.
“I am honored and humbled to have been selected to represent the dedicated firefighters working on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gonzalez said. “This pandemic has hit local communities extremely hard, and I am proud to represent our department and the National Association of Hispanic Firefighters who have worked hard to ensure vulnerable populations have access to COVID testing, vaccinations, and other key resources.”
During his career with Oakland, Gonzalez has served the community in a number of ways, including as the vice president for the Western Region of the National Association of Hispanic Firefighters. Gonzalez has also served as a proud member of Oakland Firefighters Local 55 and has held leadership roles with the Oakland Latino Firefighters Association.
“The Oakland Fire Department has been a tremendous partner for community organizations in good times and bad, and Gustavo Gonzalez is a big part of that,” said Chris Iglesias, president and chief executive officer of the Unity Council in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood. “Beyond his day to day duties as a firefighter, Gustavo consistently seeks out opportunities for collaboration on events and initiatives that positively impact our community. He’s a great representative of front line workers and first responders who have played a pivotal role during the COVID-19 pandemic and are making sure that cities like Oakland can bounce back and be resilient afterward.”